Enid’s economic strength reflects retail diversity

ENID – Retail consultant Rickey Hayes said Enid has the same challenge other tertiary cities face.

He said the big-box retailers don’t see the data they want when looking at tertiary cities. He said he tries to give those companies a city’s full story.

“Data without a back story is just numbers,” he said. “Big-box retailers look at a city and see if they can make an investment in that city and get a return. It’s data that gets a city passed over.”

Hayes spoke about his work in Enid and other Oklahoma cities at Thursday’s Enid Regional Development Authority luncheon, held at Oakwood Country Club.

Hayes has been working in Enid for six years. He represents the city at the International Council of Shopping Centers’ annual show in Las Vegas. He said Enid has several factors working in its favor, such as the east-west highway and a city government that’s willing to help with deals. The city’s businesses also have a regional draw, such as banks and medical services.

He said other cities, such as Altus, don’t have the highway advantage. People don’t have to drive through Altus to get anywhere.

“(Enid’s) economy continues to grow, even at a time when Oklahoma’s economy is not growing,” he said.

CBRE Senior Vice President Mark Inman has been working on retail deals in Enid for about 18 years. He said he and his CBRE colleagues, Stuart Graham and Kendra Roberts, are positive about Enid.

“There’s not a lot of vacancy there,” Inman said. “There’s one main retail area and their downtown. It all seems to perform well.”

Inman said the city has a super-regional draw, with shoppers coming from the Panhandle and the state line.

“The whole portion of northwest Oklahoma shops here,” Hayes said.

Inman said that while the city has a lot of energy-related jobs, the city has other industries, so retailers are supported during the energy industry’s ups and downs.

Even as national retail chains have closed, Enid’s regional draw has been strong enough that the empty big boxes can be renovated for multiple tenants. The city bought the former Homeland grocery store and it’s now leased to T.J. Maxx and Petsmart, with another tenant coming to fill the vacant 6,000-square-foot space.

The former Kmart at N. Oakwood Road and W. Owen K. Garriott Road (Highway 412) will soon have three new tenants.

There’s a new development coming to Garriott Road and S. Cleveland Street. He called it a Main-and-Main location. The new tenants will be a regional pizza chain, a steak restaurant, an entertainment venue, and another retailer.

While there’s positive retail growth in the city, Hayes said people shouldn’t expect much to change at the Oakwood Mall. The mall is the Oakwood Road and Garriott Road intersection.

The owner bought it for less than $4 million and the low rents help the property’s cash flow. The owner has no plans to change his formula, Hayes said.

“That might be the best piece of real estate in Oklahoma,” Hayes said.

Hayes said he’s staying focused on filling the city’s retail leakage categories. He said his work plays into the larger picture of recruiting businesses to the city. Retailers help provide a better quality of life, which is important to companies when they’re considering where to relocate.

“It’s easier to get new jobs in Enid if you have retail,” he said. “People don’t want to have to leave to shop.”